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Reinstitutionalizing families: Life course policy and marriage in the military

APA Citation:

Lundquist, J., & Xu, Z. (2014). Reinstitutionalizing families: Life course policy and marriage in the military. Journal of Marriage and Family, 76(5), 1063–1081. https://doi.org/10.1111/jomf.12131



Branch of Service:


Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Active duty service member
Child of a service member or veteran
Military families
Spouse of service member or veteran


Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)


Cross-Sectional Study
Qualitative Study
Secondary Analysis


Lundquist, Jennifer, Xu, Zhun


The transition to adulthood has become an increasingly telescoped process for Americans, with marital formation occurring increasingly later in the life course. It is therefore striking to find a context like the U.S. military, in which marriage rates bear an anachronistic resemblance to those of the 1950s era. Using narrative data from life history interviews with military affiliates, the authors show that the military has reinstitutionalized military families at the same time that civilian families are becoming deinstitutionalized. Structural conditions of modern military service, such as war deployment and frequent geographical relocation, have created policies that rely on families to make these conditions more bearable for military personnel. These policies are part of an overarching institutional culture that directly and indirectly promotes marriage. The authors bring together life course literatures on turning points, the welfare state, and linked lives to show how the military has reinstitutionalized families in these ways.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:


Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

University of Massachusetts, Amherst, JL
Renmin University of China, ZX


military, marriage, institutionalization, life course policy

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary


Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

REACH Newsletter:

  April 2019

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